Extraction of the Black Sea natural gas will most probably start towards the end of 2025-2026, Energy Minister Virgil Popescu declared on Tuesday, mentioning that state-owned oil and gas company Romgaz is currently negotiating the acquisition of the 50 percent Neptun Deep stake.
"Back in 2008 ExxonMobil acquired 50 percent of the Black Sea Neptun Deep block. It still explores it in a joint venture with OMV Petrom. The operator is ExxonMobil. Romgaz is negotiating the purchase of the 50 percent Neptun Deep stake - and you may have seen an almost unnoticeable piece of news this Friday in a Romgaz report on the Stock Exchange, that it has signed an exclusivity agreement with Exxon for a period of 4 months - until October 15, 2021 - regarding negotiations for the acquisition of all shares [issued by ExxonMobil Exploration and Production Romania Limited]. So the natural gas in the Black Sea will be taken out, most probably towards the end of 2025-2026, exactly when we want the coal-to-gas converted power plants to be put into operation, precisely in order to have where to feed that gas surplus we take out of the Black Sea," Virgil Popescu told the Government's Question Hour in Parliament.
Romgaz is currently negotiating with Exxon the purchase of the US company's 50 percent stake in the deepwater Neptun Deep Black Sea gas project.
Romgaz general manager Aristotel Jude said in April that the Romanian oil and gas company is ready to take over ExxonMobil's participation and the financing method will be a mixed one, from its own and attracted sources.
ExxonMobil and OMV Petrom are equal partners in the deep-sea Neptun Deep project, where exploration has revealed deposits estimated at 42-84 billion cubic meters. For comparison, Romania produced 9.2 billion cubic meters last year, according to the National Mineral Resources Agency.
ExxonMobil announced its intention to exit Romania, and OMV Petrom said that it might decide next year to invest in the Neptun Deep project, depending on the legislative changes in Romania and on the market situation.